Why I'm Doing A Sponsored Smoke For Cancer Charities

After an online hashtag highlighted the social reactions which can often annoy cancer sufferers, I decided to start a different kind of fundraiser.
Publish date:
Updated on

Vicky was close to death. She laughed as I told her about my sponsored smoke. Her eyes twinkled, That’s so you… Awkward twat.

‘If these things make your illness so much more difficult, there must be others. You can’t be the only person to experience these horrible things. I’ll write a manifesto and everything.’

She shook her head smiling. I bet you will.

The main purpose of the #VickyManifesto is to report social reactions that made Vicky’s last years less pleasant. More details are in the link above.

Some of the things that upset Vicky were:

Being constantly reminded of her cancer.

Her cookie-driven stalking via cancer industry banner ads. They often made Vicky’s online life unbearable.

People assuming to know about her cancer but not listening when she tried to enlighten them.

Due to her (smoking unrelated) cancer, people openly disapproving of her smoking - and being unaware of the similar carcinogenic risks of eating processed meat, being overweight, drinking alcohol or pollution.

The cruelty of professional cancer charity representatives - that Lord Grade may address - trying to bully and emotionally blackmail her.

People’s insensitive behaviour on social media including the obscenity of the ‘no make-up selfie’.

The use of universal positive thinking terms like ‘brave’, ‘battle’, ‘fight’ - (I’ve done this). This can gag the terminally ill and stop them from expressing anger, grief, remorse. Sometimes the victim knows it’s bad luck and genetics that they cannot affect.

In affecting outcomes, Positive Thinking is utter bullshit. We want to believe, we don’t want to accept that we, or our loved ones, are helpless.

Yet there seems to be a social acceptance of PT coupled with a social ignorance to the massive effect stress can have on the severity and prognosis of serious illness - employers, take note. Our society embraces useless myth over crucial, practical help.

Vicky wasn’t the only one. The response to my first tweet was remarkable. People sharing Vicky’s upset and reporting more extreme examples. Grateful that she’d articulated them, many thought they were unsayable or had suffered hostility for expressing them. Being daft, I didn’t hashtag it, which happened after the initial kerfuffle. I retweeted quite a few so they’re trackable.

Although society seemed to want to impose it, Vicky didn’t want to be defined by cancer. Until her last breath, she was way more than a disease.

Perhaps we should think twice about how we, as individuals and a society, respond to the terminally ill.

This is a small ‘campaign’ so society expects me to raise cash: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mick-mccann-1